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4 Sep, 2014 15:18

'Welfare not warfare': Protesters march on NATO Summit

'Welfare not warfare': Protesters march on NATO Summit

Hundreds of protesters marched from the center of Newport in a show of opposition to the NATO Summit. There are reports of several marches taking place in other Welsh towns.

An estimated 500 NATO opponents made a three-mile trek to the venue in a peaceful protest through Newport. The turnout appears to be well below the 2,500 predicted by organizers.

Demonstrators protest against the NATO summit being held at the Celtic Manor resort, near Newport, in Wales September 4, 2014. (Reuters)

Chants of “Welfare not warfare” and placards reading ‘Nuclear NATO No Thanks’ and ‘Stop NATO’ were seen and heard amongst the procession, which was followed by two police helicopters.

‘Red Block’ communists carrying hammer and sickle banners joined the march dressed in black with their faces covered.

“Protesters hope that the NATO summit won’t be the launch pad to a dangerous global conflict,” said RT’s Harry Fear, reporting from the protests.

“Here on the ground around the base of the Celtic Manner, home of a hotel and resort here in Newport, a hundred, if not a couple of thousand protesters are visibly angry and upset at NATO being here in south Wales, and generally at its policies of warring as they see it.

“They also see NATO as symbolic of several global issues like austerity and inequality.”

#NoToNato protest begins in #Newport: marching on Celtic Manor where #NATOSummitUK is being held. (Photo: @adavies4) pic.twitter.com/4fggOumedE

— CND (@CNDuk) September 4, 2014

Pippa Bartolotti, part of the No NATO protest group and leader of the Green Party in Wales, entered the resort venue to present peace messages and a bouquet of white flowers symbolizing peace.

The message carried with it reads: “Dear NATO, there is more power in peace than in war. Put the little people first.”

Here's the view through a window in the fence line at Celtic Manor #natonewportpic.twitter.com/MyR0kTiAex

— Jen Mills (@ArgusJenMills) September 4, 2014

Chanting erupted as the march arrived at the metal cordon and riot police lines encircling the venue, where protesters pounded against the steel fencing.

So far the protests have been peaceful, with police making only one arrest overnight. A 57-year-old man from Newport was arrested in the early hours of Thursday for possession of an offensive weapon.

LIVE #natonewport protesters reach police cordon Chepstow Road @TheCelticManor@southwalesarguspic.twitter.com/wzEGlvSpxW

— Jon Bevan (@ArgusJBevan) September 4, 2014

In total, some 9,500 police officers are providing security for the event. Twelve miles of security fencing was erected in Cardiff and Newport to ensure the world leaders' safety during the event, with some locals likening it to the ‘Berlin Wall.’

Demonstrators take part in a protest march against the 2014 NATO Summit in Newport, Wales, on September 4, 2014. (AFP Photo)

The summit will focus on the Ukrainian crisis and what members consider Russia’s role in it, tensions in Afghanistan, and security challenges across the wider Middle East.

Handing in letters at the NATO summit #NoToNatopic.twitter.com/FsTy0NmM3B

— Kate Hudson (@kate4peace2014) September 4, 2014

“The Ukrainian president has made his statement saying the ceasefire for the Ukraine crisis could be reached in the next 48 hours and it could even be implemented on the ground within that timeframe,” said Fear.

He added: “This is of course one of the most significant things to come out of the NATO Summit here in south Wales. At the top of the agenda for today has been Afghanistan and of course this Ukrainian turmoil as well. Over the last several months the EU and NATO have taken this very hard line against Russia.”